What you need to know:
- The Ministry of Health and its agencies have been adversely mentioned in various scandals in the past.
- The most outrageous scam was at the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa), where billions meant for Covid-19 were lost last year.
President Uhuru Kenyatta has once again threatened to take action against Health ministry officials stealing from the public coffers. He has warned officials of the ministry, Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) and other agencies of dire consequences should they be caught looting resources for health services.
However, though it sounds like music to the ears, the threat would only make sense if followed up with action. Which is never the case.
On several occasions, President Kenyatta has issued directives to investigators to rein in looters of public funds but nothing happened. For the few arrested, their cases never went far due to shoddy investigations and defective prosecution.
The ministry and its agencies have been adversely mentioned in various scandals in the past. Last year, for example, Parliament censured it for mismanaging a Sh1.3 billion grant from the World Bank that was earmarked for fighting Covid-19.
Way back in 2016, it reportedly lost Sh800 million in a dubious deal for supply of mobile clinics, which caused an uproar. The matter was never settled and suspects never sanctioned.
But the most outrageous scam was at the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa), where billions meant for Covid-19 were lost last year through reckless and shameless procurement schemes.
Then, the President again directed that the matter be investigated expeditiously and the culprits arraigned in court. Parliament and various agencies investigated the matter and established culpability. But in characteristic Kenyan style, the culprits were arrested and charged in court but no conviction has been regisred so far.
This is the reason why we are sceptical about President Kenyatta’s latest threat. The tragedy of our times is that high-profile criminals who steal huge sums of money from the public are never seized, charged in court and convicted. Which is the reason financial scandals keep increasing. Other than threats and fulminations that eventually peter out, nobody ever really gets penalised for the heists.
Let President Kenyatta walk the talk this time round.